Filmic urban space; around, over, and through multifaceted spatial layers, is one of the central aims of the Steven Holl-designed Hybrid Building complex, with over 700 apartments sited adjacent to the old city wall of Beijing. The aspiration of the developer Modern Group is for an ultra-modern expression of 21st Century ecological urban living, in this 220,000-square-meter project, set to open in late spring or early summer of this year.
Current development in Beijing is almost entirely "object buildings" and free standing towers. This "city within a city" envisions urban space as the central aim-as well as all the activities and programs that can support the daily life of over 2500 inhabitants: café's, delis, laundry, dry cleaners, florists, et cetera, line the main public passages. The eight towers are linked at the twentieth floor by a ring of cafes and services.
The polychrome architecture of Ancient China here inspires a new phenomenal dimension especially inscribing the "spatiality of the night". The undersides of the cantilevered portions are colored membranes in night light glow. Misting fountains from the water retention basin activate the night light in colorful clouds, while the floating Cineplex centerpiece has partial images of its ongoing films projected on its undersides and reflected in the water.
Focused on the experience of passage of the body through spaces, the towers are organized to take movement, timing, and sequence into consideration. The point of view changes with a slight ramp up, a slow right turn. The elevator displaces like a "jump cut" to another series of passages on a higher level, which pan across exhilarating peripheral views.
The encircled towers express a collective aspiration; rather than towers as isolated objects or private islands in an increasingly privatized city, the hope of a new type of collective 21st Century space in the air is inscribed. Programmatically this loop aspires to be semi-lattice-like rather than simplistically linear. The sky-loop and the base-loop will constantly generate random relationships, just as a modern city does.
Mass housing in China has historically been standardized and repetitive. This building aims to break the pattern; this new vertical urban sector aspires to individuation in urban living. Hundreds of different apartment layouts in a huge variety of types will be available among the 728 living spaces constructed here. And it should be emphasized, that even if this would lead to a commercial advantage, the reason for this individuation is philosophical as well.
Digitally driven prefabricated construction of the exterior structure of the eight towers allows for "beamless" ceilings. Every apartment has two exposures with no interior hallways. Principles of Feng-Shui are followed throughout the complex, which is aimed at sustainability "LEED Gold" rating.